Monday, November 9, 2015

Dadurday, or How to Save Your Marriage and Raise Awesome Kids

I want to share this idea with all you parents. My friend Satwik​ frequently posts pictures of himself hanging out with his two kids on what he has termed "Dadurday." Essentially, he takes the kids out to do something on Saturday, just dad and the kids. They go to eat, on bike rides, sightseeing, to farms, etc. This may not seem like a big deal, but I want to explain why it is, and why I think more dads should take the same initiative. Or why more wives should insist upon it.

Moms (working moms and stay-at-home moms alike) are generally their children's primary caregivers. When both parents are around, the care generally defaults to mom, and unless dad is expressly in charge, mom is on alert. As such, we often find ourselves with little time truly to ourselves, when nobody depends on us, we have no tasks to complete for the good of the household, we don't have to use the "eyes in the back of our heads," etc. Even when dad is watching the kids but mom is still in proximity, she will never be off duty. Physical separation is a critical component of Dadurday.

What's more, if moms want free time outside of the house, we often have to ask for it. As wonderful as my husband is, I still find us in a strange dynamic in which (for example) he'll tell me he's going for a haircut, then go get one. Or just up and go. Meanwhile, I ask "permission" and then have to make a plan to go out around his schedule. Tom​ doesn't demand this of me in any way, that's just kinda how it works. This loss of autonomy generally translates to a loss of self for many women, which can be one of the greatest challenges of motherhood.

There is a certain segment of dads who treat hanging out with their kids as if they are babysitting, like it is a burden, or like they are overwhelmed or confused with what to do with these tiny humans. It makes me so sad to hear from the wives of these men. It makes me think about a piece of advice my friend Kristen​ mentioned she'd learned about parenting: delight in your children. Ans so the hands-off dads, I say: delight in your children. Get down on their level. Get dirty (and that includes changing diapers). Get involved. Get snuggly. Get creative. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is one of the greatest joys of parenthood.

There are other dads who love to hang out with their kids but don't necessarily appreciate their wives' perspectives and needs. Both classes of dad (and mom) can benefit from Dadurday, I think. Spending time with one parent without the other present is a very different experience, and that bonding is so important. I think these everyday encounters and simple conversations with young children set the groundwork for the big conversations that come later.

Make a plan - be it every Saturday, every other Saturday, or one Saturday a month - for Dad to take the kids somewhere for a substantial portion of the day, ideally including at least one meal. The plan is key so that Mom can anticipate her free time and make a lunch date with her non-parent friend she never sees,  make an appointment for a pedicure, or pick up a trashy novel at the library. And Dadurday doesn't have to cost money - Dad can pack a picnic lunch and take the kiddos to the park. Home Depot and Lowe's have free kid's projects one Saturday a month. Go for a hike or to the pool. I suggested this idea to one harried friend recently, and her husband ended up taking their daughter out for donuts, to the farmers' market, and to a trampoline play place. The possibilities are endless.

I know this doesn't describe everyone's situation, but in talking to moms I know, it's a common theme I hear over and over: "I just want time to myself!"  I guarantee you the rewards will come back to you tenfold in your marriage. As my husband espouses: happy wife, happy life!

#dadurday #teamDDW #daddydoinwork #womenirl #parenting #protip #happywifehappylife

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